THE family of a young Killygordon mother who died of breast cancer after two opportunities to have the disease diagnosed were missed, has settled their High Court action for €1.35m.
Melissa Hamilton (nee Connolly) (34), from Sallywood, Killygordon, died two weeks after she was diagnosed, and just nine days after the birth of her third child.
Of the settlement, €900,000 has been awarded for the future care of her three children, who are aged ten, six and three.
Melissa’s husband, Seamus Hamilton, had sued for damages for nervous shock over the wrongful death of his wife.
Liability in the case was admitted last month.
In a letter read to the court this morning, Mr Sean Murphy, general manager of Letterkenny General Hospital, said he wished to apologise unreservedly to Ms Hamilton’s family because her cancer had not been diagnosed and treated at an earlier stage.
He said he wished to express his deepest and sincere regret to the family, on behalf of clinical staff and management at the hospital.
Ms Hamilton first attended her GP with symptoms relating to her right breast in December 2009.
She was referred to the breast clinic in Letterkenny in February 2010, where she was informed that she had a benign cyst.
In June that year, Ms Hamilton visited her GP again with a discharge from her breast.
She was referred to the breast clinic for a second time, and diagnosed with mastitis.
Over a year later, in August 2011, Mrs Hamilton attended a locum GP and was again referred to the breast clinic, where she was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.
Her baby was delivered by Caesarean section at 28 weeks.
Ms Hamilton died in hospital nine days later.
Speaking outside the High Court, Seamus Hamilton described his wife Melissa as his “soulmate”, and said she was a “driven, giving, big-hearted woman”.
He said Melissa had been an “integral and monumental” part of his children’s lives.
Mr Hamilton said only the eldest girl was old enough to remember her mother, and he said she was “tortured for life” and “had a fear of losing everyone around her”.
He said his wife had had her whole life ahead of her, and would have still been alive if her cancer had been diagnosed earlier.
Mr Hamilton said his family had been torn apart, adding that his daughters would one day know that their mother’s death could have been prevented.